Paragon Reproductions - Manufacturer Spotlight: Paragon Redefined

A Closer Look At A Major Corvette Parts House

Alan Colvin Mar 1, 2005 0 Comment(s)
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Paragon Reproductions has been in the Corvette reproduction parts business since the early '70s. In the beginning, its primary business focused on service and used parts. As time went on, General Motors began discontinuing the production of many service parts for the early Corvette, which opened the door for Paragon to reproduce the parts GM chose to discontinue. Paragon's location in mid-Michigan and only four miles from the production location of the first Corvette and the GM Service Parts Operation made it convenient to negotiate an agreement with GM and reproduce these parts.

As a result, Paragon eventually became one of GM's top five licensed manufacturers in the industry as part of the GM Restoration Parts program. Supply and demand dictated what parts were reproduced, which remains the case today at Paragon. Currently, the company manufactures 2,500 different parts from its own tools, as well as from original GM tooling. Paragon now sells over 25,000 Corvette products.

Steven Childs, one of the owners, started working at Paragon in the early '90s and eventually worked his way up the ladder to general manager. Dave Jones, the other partner at Paragon, came to the company in the late '90s to oversee the IT/IS and accounting departments. Steve and Dave had known each other for over 20 years when they purchased the company in 2002. Steve, the president, manages the purchasing, warehousing, receiving, quality control, and the Vintage department. Steve's wife, Stacey, oversees accounts receivables and the show schedules. Dave, the vice president, manages the IT/IS department, advertising, order entry, and shipping. Dave's wife, Carol, oversees accounts payable and human resources. In addition to their corporate efforts, both couples share customer service responsibilities. Since acquiring the business, the Jones and Childs families have made it a priority to produce high-quality parts while providing customer service second to none. They treat their customers as they expect to be treated as customers. In years past, Paragon was known primarily for its excellent reproductions that were used almost exclusively for Corvettes restored to NCRS/Bloomington Gold standards. Over the last few years, the Corvette industry has evolved and Paragon has kept up with current trends. It believes its customer base has changed because fewer Corvette owners are buying parts for NCRS/Bloomington Gold restorations. More customers now want to drive their cars on a consistent basis, even if it's a previously judged trailer queen or a brand new Vette Rod. Many Bloomington Gold cars that have been in storage for years are now being re-restored and readied so they can be driven on a weekly or even daily basis. This mentality is startling, to say the least. But quality parts remain the mission, and Paragon is striving to meet the needs of its customers.

The company offers an online shopping mall, found at www.corvette-paragon.com. It provides customers 24/7 shopping and includes a photo for most items in the parts system. Interactive schematics make it easy to locate parts, and a secure login provides prices to customers, including any discounts they may be entitled to. Paragon offers up to $20 free ground shipping on first-time online orders.

The company recently performed an in-house '58 Corvette restoration project that dramatically increased used original parts sales. The car has the original parts from dozens of Corvettes, along with most of the parts currently reproduced by Paragon, which makes it a virtual calling card wherever it's shown or driven. Paragon technicians performed most of the restoration at its facility.

One of the primary goals in rebuilding this Corvette was to showcase Paragon's Vintage parts program. The program consists of several areas of customer-driven services that cater to each person's needs. If you own a survivor car and prefer to use original parts, or if replacement parts are not available, Paragon Vintage can help. It can recondition many parts back to their original, like-new condition. The staff can strip, plate, or "e-coat" your worn or damaged parts, and can rebuild your electrical and/or mechanical parts. From bolts to distributors to carburetors, they are trained to repair your original pieces correctly. Due to the wide range of original conditions and variety of reconditioning processes available, all Paragon Vintage pricing for these services are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Paragon Vintage: Five Question CountdownWhat parts can Paragon Vintage recondition?

Paragon Vintage can recondition virtually any original part from your Corvette. Moldings, gauges, window regulators, radios, and carburetors are just a few of the hundreds of services available. Parts are serviced daily in the following processes:Chrome plating: Vent-window assemblies, seat hinges, bumpers, door pillars, or any piece the customer desires.

Zinc dichromate: Deck-latch assembly, hood hinges, hood supports, bolts, and miscellaneous bracketry.

Yellow dichromate: From brake components to vacuum canisters.

Black Zinc: From seat tracks to reinforcement brackets.

Acid dip: Anything steel for rust or paint removal.

Black E-coat: Anything steel originally painted black if the customer desires a more durable coating.

Powdercoating: Anything steel with any color, many gloss levels.

Stainless steel reconditioning: Dent removal; most dents that aren't under rolled edges; highly polished exterior stainless steel trim.

Will I get my original part(s) back from Paragon Vintage?

When you send in a part for reconditioning, it's marked with your customer number to ensure you receive the same part back.

How do you send your part(s) to Paragon Vintage?

In order for Paragon Vintage to receive your parts and begin reconditioning, you must call beforehand to receive an RMA number. This allows a restoration specialist to go over the details of your part's reconditioning, as well as give you an estimated price.

How long will it take to get your part(s) back?

Due to the varying conditions and processes required for each part, an exact timetable can't be given. The specialists will give you an estimated timetable based on similar jobs, and they'll keep you updated throughout the process.

Does Paragon Vintage do custom work?

Yes. It can custom chrome-plate almost any metal part, as well as other plating such as zinc and yellow dichromate. A specialist will answer any specific questions.

More and more Corvette owners personalize their cars, and they also drive them, which was Chevrolet's intent in the first place. Most of us agree that creating giant paperweights that sit under a car cover for decades has its "fun meter" limitations. Keeping in step with the current trends, Paragon has embraced the inevitable and is now helping thousands of Corvette enthusiasts pursue the dream of modifying their Corvette into an image they can live with. Whether you own a Bloomington Gold car or are intent on creating a Corvette to enjoy year-round in any environment, Paragon can help you achieve your goals.

Corvette Fever Secret Shopper: Sourcing From ParagonThis month, we're launching "Secret Shopper" in Corvette Fever, which will focus on the overall experience of the Secret Shopper with one parts vendor, usually over an extended period of time. To qualify as a Secret Shopper, a couple of things are required: a nonbiased attitude toward any CF parts vendors or suppliers, and a willingness to accept responsibility for your comments on your parts-buying experience, positive or negative. If you want to be a Secret Shopper in a future issue, contact us at corvette.fever@primedia.com.

Paragon Secret Shopper: Bruce, PhiladelphiaAfter owning my '65 396 roadster for a little over 26 years, it was time for a rebuild from top to bottom and bumper to bumper. As the disassembly progressed, it became apparent that everything that came off the car needed to be either rebuilt or replaced.

I quickly determined I needed one source for excellent quality components with a staff of qualified individuals who were knowledgeable about their product line and my application. During research of the vendor selection, one name kept rising to the top: Paragon Reproductions. I heard statements such as "The catalog is easy to use," "The people who answer the phone know what they're talking about," "Great quality parts," and my favorite: "Paragon isn't the cheapest, but the parts are an excellent value for the price you pay." That works for me.

My Paragon experience began in March 2002 when I called to order a catalog. I was impressed with the first person I spoke with. She was articulate, knowledgeable, and seemed pleased I was ordering a catalog. I began drafting my list as soon as the catalog arrived. Starting with the chassis, I ordered brake and fuel lines, along with retainers, shim kits for the trailing arms, bolts, and French locks for the halfshafts. I also ordered a laundry list of suspension components.

While Paragon offers several methods of ordering, I prefer speaking with someone. The process began with a customer profile that included year, body style, engine, and drivetrain information, as well as my contact information. Once into my parts list, I provided the quantity and part number, and the rep came back with the description, application, and availability. This is a good way to verify the order in the beginning and eliminate problems further down the line.

Speaking to a Paragon sales representative proved beneficial on the first call. As I was reading my list, she pointed out that once my order exceeds $500, the "Stick With Us" buying program kicks in and customers are given a 15 percent discount on select parts, and 10 percent on some others. Over the course of the project, the Stick With Us program saved me several hundred dollars.

Each time I placed an order, the sales rep requested my credit card number, which I initially thought was peculiar. I asked them to keep my number on file for future calls. Paragon politely declined, claiming that for security reasons they do not keep credit card numbers once the transaction is complete.

As orders began arriving, there was a consistency in the timeliness of the delivery, packaging and, most importantly, quality of the parts. Without fail, every order arrived within a couple of days, and the items were carefully wrapped for protection during shipping. The quality of the parts was terrific. Having built many street and drag-race cars, I know most aftermarket parts require some finesse to get them to fit and perform properly. The Paragon parts fit perfectly and the finish in most cases was a perfect match to original equipment.

Paragon also offers restoration services, and has learned a trick or two over the years. If the company knows of a more efficient method of installation or has found a way to compensate for wear and age of the vehicle, those tips are included with the parts.

Once the chassis was reassembled and the body mounted, it was off to the body shop for some major cosmetic surgery. As is often the case, the car languished there for almost a year. During that time, as body panels were needed Paragon shipped the parts directly to the shop, which saved me plenty of time and kept the bodywork going.

Reunited with my Corvette, it was time for me to detail the engine compartment prior to installing the body trim and interior. Another trip through the Paragon catalog, and I was able to find everything I needed to finish under the hood. Wiring harness, dust boots with those pesky staples, wire retainers, and decals-everything was ordered and arrived promptly.

I had to return an outside door mirror to Paragon. I was afraid I might encounter some resistance since the first mirror I received was decent, just not the quality I was looking for.

Returning was as simple as ordering. The sales rep assigned an authorization number to my return and exchanged the mirror with no questions asked.

The next phase of the restoration is the interior. While I'm competent with a wrench, installing seat upholstery exceeds the limits of my automotive talent, so I'm shipping them to Paragon so their experts can rebuild the seat frames and install new cushions and seat covers.

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